Constructing a Painful Past: Competing Narratives of the Indonesian Occupation
Sheena M. Harris Department of Organizational Leadership, Development and Policy - University of Minnesota (OLPD-UMN), USA
From 1975 to 1999, Indonesia occupied Timor-Leste, subjecting the East Timorese to a 24-year period of human rights violations. Since independence in 2002, the national government of Timor-Leste has promoted a historical narrative of heroic resistance, marginalizing the stories of violence experienced by civilians. In contrast, the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (CAVR) has presented a narrative of the period as one of victims’ suffering. These two institutions—the national government and the truth commission—are guided by different institutional logics, which inform their constructions of the past. This paper explores the connection between institutional logics and historical narratives through a content analysis of a series of graphic-style textbooks known as Chega! which are based on the CAVR’s report and one grade 6 Social Science textbook which was produced by the Timorese Ministry of Education in 2015. Comparisons were drawn between the historical narrative of the East Timorese government and those present within the sets of textbooks. While the results of the analysis show that the grade 6 Social Science textbook most closely mirrors the national narrative, it also includes mention of this period as a time of human rights violations. The results of this study have implications for how teachers in Timor-Leste present the historical narrative of the occupation period to their students.